Community service for 'Smurf' who targeted Nicola Sturgeon with homophobic letter

A man who was compared to “a Smurf” by a sheriff when he turned up to court in full William Wallace face paint has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.

By Alexander Lawrie
Monday, 25th July 2022, 3:01 pm
Updated Monday, 25th July 2022, 7:08 pm

Richard McFarlane, 55, was found guilty following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month of sending a hate-filled homophobic letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The three-page typed rant was filled with homophobic slurs against former SNP Finance Minister Derek Mackay and also contained several biblical quotations.

McFarlane appeared in the dock at his trial while dressed in a purple kilt, black leather jacket, Scotland rugby top and bright blue paint covering his face.

But the former soldier was put in his place by Sheriff John Cook who compared him to the blue cartoon characters and ordered him to wipe his face clean before the trial could commence.

The letter sent by McFarlane, from Bellshill, Lanarkshire, stated he believes homosexuality “leads to paedophilia which leads to bestiality”.

The letter read: “Nicola I have written to you before in good faith.

“You are deliberately allowing yourself to be used to promote a Satanic agenda.”

A sheriff described Richard McFarlane as looking 'like a Smurf' for turning up in court bizarrely dressed and covered in face paint

The abusive letter also described the LBGTIQ community as “a Marxist organisation”.

A Scottish government worker who opened the mail at the capital’s St Andrew’s House spotted the alarming comments and called in the police to investigate on February 17, 2020.

Sheriff Cook found McFarlane guilty of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by sending the letter and deferred sentence.

The unemployed HGV driver returned to the dock where was placed on a community payback order and will have to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work in the community.

During the trial McFarlane represented himself but failed to ask any questions of the witnesses and made a long rambling speech to the court claiming “Christ is on his second coming”.

He said that Mr Mackay continuing as an MSP and claiming expenses despite resigning amid a scandal had driven him to write to Ms Sturgeon.

He said: “The letter was motivated because I felt Our Father motivated me to tell Nicola, not out of hatred but out of love.

McFarlane stated: “I felt somewhat annoyed he was continuing with his job in the Scottish Parliament and claiming thousands of pounds in expenses.

“I felt at the time I really needed to say to Nicola that guy getting sacked didn't go far enough. He should have not been an MSP anymore.”

He then completed his address to the sheriff by reading out the hymn ‘Once To Every Man And Nation’ written by James Russell Lowell.

Speaking outside court following the trial, McFarlane said he thought the sheriff had been “very fair” in his judgement and he was “fairly happy” at how the trial went.

He said: “I told the sheriff I was identifying as William Wallace but he said I should consider my position coming into his court looking like a Smurf.

“To be fair I knew he was going to find me guilty, but it comes down to people’s perceptions.

“I admitted I wrote the letter but it was just a wee dig at Nicola.”